During bone resorption, osteoclasts form a tight attachment, the sealing zone, around resorption lacunae. Vitronectin receptor has previously been shown to be expressed in osteoclasts and it has been suggested that it mediates the tight attachment at the sealing zone. In this study we have shown that glycine-arginine-glycine-aspartic acid-serine pentapeptide inhibits bone resorption by isolated osteoclasts and drastically changes the morphology of the osteoclasts. When the vitronectin receptor was localized by immunofluorescence in rat and chicken osteoclasts cultured on bone slices, it was found to be distributed throughout the osteoclast cell membrane except in the sealing zone areas. Immunoperoxidase staining of rat bone sections at the light microscopical level also revealed intense staining of the cell membrane with occasional small unstained areas, probably corresponding to the sealing zones. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed the results obtained by light microscopy showing specific labeling only at the ruffled borders and basolateral membranes (0.82 and 2.43 gold particles/microns of membrane, respectively), but not at the sealing zone areas (0.06 gold particles/microns of membrane). Both alpha v and beta 3 subunits of the vitronectin receptor were similarly localized. These results strongly suggest that, although the vitronectin receptor is important in the function of osteoclasts, it is not mediating the final sealing zone attachment of the osteoclasts to the mineralized bone surface.

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